Thursday, January 31, 2008

I Stand Corrected: Clinton And Obama Were Both Pretty Inspiring

By Manifesto Joe

I wrote a piece last week that in part lamented, after the Democrats' South Carolina mudwrestling match, that there won't be an inspirational leader emerge for the party this year. On Thursday night, from Los Angeles, I saw enough to change my mind.

With John Edwards' departure from the race, it was Hillary vs. Barack, direct from LA, mano-a-mano. Both decided to take the high road and kept it all on a very dignified level. And I came away from the two hours feeling sincerely proud that one of these two will be the Democratic Party's presidential nominee.

I was sad about Edwards dropping out -- he was conspicuous in his absence Thursday night. He had two big campaign problems. One was that, when it comes to class warfare, he not only needed to take the gloves off, but to put the brass knucks on as well. A few truly "audacious" statements about the fatcats might not have gotten him any more money, but media reactions might have kept him in the running. He played it too careful. The second thing was that he needed to wear more jeans and flannel shirts, get cheaper haircuts and maybe even grow a goatee. Hollywood and Washington differ in that, in the latter, it's possible to be a bit too pretty. (On the GOP side, I think Mitt Romney may be discovering that.)

Back to the two Dems left standing -- they both stood pretty tall Thursday night. "Scoring" for a winner, I would have awarded Obama a close decision. I thought he scored the most telling points during the discussion of the Iraq war, which he can claim to have opposed from its very mendacious start, in contrast to Clinton.

But Hillary easily scored her share of debating points, and made me chuckle musing that it took one Clinton to clean up after one Bush, and that now it may take another Clinton to clean up after yet another Bush. She said flatly that she would try to return federal income tax rates to where they were before GWB took office -- you know, back when what's-his-name was president, and the national debt was about half what it is now.

Obama had a similar moment when he was asked about the predictable GOP effort to label either of them as liberal "tax-and-spend" Democrats. He quickly responded that he didn't think the Republicans will be in a position to argue for their record of fiscal responsibility, having added $4-5 trillion to the national debt in a short time. He pointed out that apparent GOP front-runner John McCain, years ago, opposed the notion of cutting taxes repeatedly at a time when the nation was going to war. But now he's for making those tax cuts permanent. So much for the "Straight Talk Express."

Clinton also scored well when asked about Romney's remarks that since neither of the Democratic front-runners have ever run a business, neither should feel qualified to be CEO of the USA. George W. Bush, she pointed out, ran as the M.B.A. and CEO for America. "And look what we got," she added, to laughter and applause. "I'm not too happy with that."

Anyway, I was proud of, and for, both candidates Thursday night. The problem now is deciding which one I will vote for. Yes, they each have problems, but consider the alternatives. I would now be happy with either Clinton or Obama, warts and all. I don't think the country could end up a net loser with one scenario or the other.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Beauty Should Be Shared

This is In the Waiting Line, by Zero 7.

Monday, January 28, 2008

To The Very Last, Chimpy Has No Class

By Manifesto Joe

The foreshadowing was when, during the customary applauded entrance for his final State of the Union address, George W. Bush encountered a friendly man, I don't know whom, afflicted with male pattern baldness.

Chimpy, the frathouse grand wazoo to the very end, rubbed the man's bald head, right there on worldwide video. I guess that's supposed to be good luck among frat rats. At least this person didn't recoil, a la Angela Merkel. He lucked out there.

Then we had to listen to the speech. We got a lecture on deficit spending from a president who has blown the national debt up to over $9 trillion. This has been done by giving out tax bonanzas galore, mainly to corporations and rich individuals, and by starting an elective war of aggression with a country that had nothing to do with 9-11. (Nor did it have WMDs.) OK, so we knew all this.

His course for the next year? He vows to veto "any" increase in taxes, and intends to make the tax "relief" of his administration permanent. "Murkans" know how to use their own money (even as the national debt piles up to alarming levels). There was disingenuous mention of a tax increase of $1,800, for 116 million taxpayers, if this doesn't happen. But there was no discussion of how that average was arrived at, and who gets the bulk of the benefit. There's a good reason for that. This isn't a good time to admit that you're seeking to make a temporary tax bonanza for the rich a permanent one.

Go here for some basic fact-checking.

And of course, involvement in Iraq will continue, as the U.S. continues the noble quest to build a textbook democracy in the Middle East. Maybe one of these years we'll get a chance to start working on that one right here.

He is all for "free and fair elections" in Ukraine and Georgia, and praises the brave people who rose up to demand that in those fledgling democracies. This from a man who lost the 2000 popular vote and then was in essence appointed to the presidency by the Supreme Court. Then, there was Ohio in 2004. And, those Diebold machines that can be easily hacked. ... Has this been the first illegitimate two-term presidency? It will take much time to sort that out.

We heard a lot about a "free" Iraq. Does he mean the one that had no al Qaeda presence until the U.S. invaded? And then quickly became a "trrrist" magnet? That "free" Iraq?

There was predictable exaggeration of progress in that country. He didn't mention that those 80,000 Iraqis who have mounted the "grassroots surge" are people in neighborhood watch groups that have been hired by the U.S. military for $300 a month. Wonder what they'll do when the money runs out?

And of course, he still can't pronounce "nuclear." (nuke-you-ler) I strongly suspect that this has always been for effect. The man was born in New Haven, Conn., to a New England political dynasty, and didn't spend that much of his youth in Midland, Texas. (Just enough to learn how to torture and kill small animals, based on peer accounts.) He went to prep school in Andover, Mass., then Yale, and Harvard Biz. He is said to speak with a more clipped, New England-style accent when in private.

Of course, that doesn't evidence any more intelligence. For that, I'd take Lyndon Baines "Uncle Cornpone" Johnson of Southwest Texas State Teachers College -- warts and all, any day. At least he came by his accent honestly.

This is the most phony, incompetent, amoral lout who has ever occupied this highest of offices. I'm quite aware that he will never see himself this way. Studies have revealed that inept people generally see themselves as quite the opposite.

He said absolutely nothing to allay that impression in this final "State of the Union" bilge. I am thankful that the next time we hear anything like this from Chimpy will be his good riddance, er, farewell address.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Newsflash: Suharto Dies, Is Cast Into Lowest Pits Of Hell

By Manifesto Joe

Well, we can only hope so, per justice for the Indonesian people, and especially for the survivors of the East Timor victims. It's funny how being "anti-communist" could get you a pass for mass murder back in the '60s, '70s and '80s.

I won't even get into the Noam Chomsky accounts of Suharto's genocide against the Timorese, because the research would take long enough to make this an untimely post. I'll rely on the MSM. This is what The Associated Press had after the news broke:

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Former dictator Suharto, an army general who crushed Indonesia's communist movement and pushed aside the country's founding father to usher in 32 years of tough rule that saw up to a million political opponents killed, died Sunday. He was 86. ...

Suharto, who led a regime widely regarded as one of the 20th century's most brutal and corrupt, has lived a reclusive life in a comfortable villa in downtown Jakarta for the past decade. ...

Historians say up to 800,000 alleged communist sympathizers were killed during Suharto's rise to power from 1965 to 1968. His troops killed another 300,000 in military operations against independence movements in Papua, Aceh and East Timor.

Suharto's poor health had kept him from facing trial, and no one has been punished for the killings.

Corruption watchdog Transparency International has said Suharto and his family amassed billions of dollars in stolen state funds, allegations the family is fighting in court.

Suharto's successors as head of state — B.J. Habibie, Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Sukarnoputri and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono — vowed to end corruption that took root under Suharto, yet it remains endemic at all levels of Indonesian society.

With the court system paralyzed by corruption, the country has not confronted its bloody past. Rather than put on trial those accused of mass murder and multibillion-dollar theft, some members of the political elite consistently called for charges against Suharto to be dropped on humanitarian grounds.

It's remarkable how humane the international community can become when it's a fascist dictator who's sick and can't go to trial. There are those among us who would be dusting off the electric chair not only for Castro, but also for Hugo Chavez and even Daniel Ortega if they could.

I remember some people getting all misty-eyed about the plight of Chile's Augusto Pinochet as a decrepit ruin. Nobody running Western governments after World War II seemed interested in pursuing crimes-against-humanity charges against the European fascist dictators Franco and Salazar.

There seems to be a residual double standard for the murderers and tyrants of the extreme right wing, a holdover from the Cold War. The reasoning seems to be something like: Since Vladimir Putin isn't a communist, we prefer him over Gorbachev, no?

Killers are killers, and despots are despots. Nearly 20 years after the Cold War ended, it's time to, pun intended, bury it.

Roast well, Suharto. But first, may the worms devour your liver, con gusto.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Lesson To Remember During A Mean Season

By Manifesto Joe

Politics is the art of the possible. -- Otto von Bismarck

At a time when the Democratic Party desperately needs an inspirational leader, watching the debate broadcast from South Carolina late Monday couldn't have been more discouraging. I found myself averting my eyes from the schoolyard brawl between Clinton and Obama. Then, Edwards was hovering right outside the fray, waiting opportunistically to capitalize on some gaping weakness, his Carolina drawl sounding a bit juvenile.

I've seen Republicans go at it this season, too, and I saw even less to admire among them.

Monday night's debate didn't make me feel proud to be a Democrat. But I'm still a Democrat, and I'll damned sure be one this November. There's nowhere else to go.

There was a thing I had to bear in mind during the ordeal. Sunday had marked seven years of George W. Bush. Let's think back, to eight years ago, before Bush had the GOP nomination sewed up.

I don't recall the inarticulate Texas governor as one who inspired conservative Republicans in any extraordinary way. He was the ludicrous stiff they ended up with. Once it was inevitably him, they backed him ruthlessly, all the way to the ridiculous "yuppie riot" in Florida and to what was essentially a 5-4 Supreme Court appointment to the presidency.

Bush has never been that charismatic suit-filler who really makes those gonads on the right wing quiver. They've had some odd icons over the generations, some who worked, some who didn't. One inspirational leader, Barry Goldwater, was able to get the GOP nomination, but scared others with the prospect of him actually becoming president. I can't see how Ronald Reagan was less frightening, but he was elected, and then re-elected with around 59% of the vote. But, sans charisma, Bush is beginning his eighth year in office.

To 2008 Democrats: Unless one of the three presidential candidates left standing has astonishing surprises for us, we aren't going to get the inspirational leader we'd hoped for.

Obama impresses as a speaker, but he's not that different from other politicos when you observe him for a while. Hillary has been a trailblazer in many ways, but she reminds me of college women who toyed with Albert Camus, Gitanes and black outfits at 20 when you just knew she would be a dedicated nonsmoking suit in a law firm at 40. I strongly identify with Edwards' hardscrabble origins, but he's somehow coming across more as a Ken doll than as a populist firebrand.

Let us refer back to the opening quotation. Otto von Bismarck was the Prussian politician who professed to believe in the efficacy of "blood and iron," not in the procedures of liberalism. As "Iron Chancellor" of the newly unified Germany, he was identified with chauvinistic, monarchical conservatism. No one ever suspected him of being overly concerned with individual rights or civil liberties.

But, Bismarck is less known for having been something else -- the effective founder of what is now one of the most advanced and humane welfare states in the world. During the 1880s, he implemented a system that was, among European states, almost without precedent. This from Wikipedia:

The 1880s were a period when Germany started on its long road towards the welfare state it is today. The Social Democrat, National Liberal and Center parties were all involved in the beginnings of social legislation, but it was Bismarck who established the first practical aspects of this program. The program of the Social Democrats included all of the programs that Bismarck eventually implemented, but also included programs designed to preempt the programs championed by Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels. Bismarck’s idea was to implement the minimum aspects of these programs that were acceptable to the German government without any of the overtly Socialistic aspects.

The description isn't of great empathy from Bismarck and his cronies for the underprivileged, but one of pragmatism -- that the workers would have to be, in essence, bought off. That, at the time, was immense progress. There are times when one must take what one can get. The Health Insurance Bill of 1883, the Accident Insurance Bill of 1884, the Old Age and Disability Insurance Bill of 1889 -- they don't appear to have been that much by today's standards, but they were something. Ron Paul would repeal every goddamned one of them. Bush would cut the appropriations and have them all administered by skeleton crews. Grover Norquist would wait on the other side of the door for the bathtub drowning event.

We are living in a grim time politically. Noam Chomsky has characterized the two major U.S. political parties as the right wing of the Business Party and the left wing of the Business Party. Gore Vidal has characterized pretty much the same thing. Pardon me for quoting CNN xenophobe Lou Dobbs, but I thought he described the aforementioned well: The Republican Party is owned, lock, stock and barrel, by Corporate America; among the Democrats, the corpos are the majority stockholders.

In 2008, the bottom line is, that's what we're left with. At least in a situation where you're up against a shareholder majority, you can raise some hell. Fine, let's do it. The most important thing now is to win something. The name of the game is gains. We've had seven years of Bush, and that has been because our adversaries were willing to do what was necessary to impose their will on the nation.

It's not going to be pretty. But it's our turn now. Storm the Bastille, even if the result isn't ideal. Democrats, support the goddamned nominee.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Friday, January 18, 2008

"Economic Stimulus Plan" Is Just More Bush Insanity

By Manifesto Joe

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. -- Albert Einstein

On Friday, George W. Bush rolled out an "economic stimulus plan" that simply looks like a variation of what we saw after he took office in 2001. There are proposed rebates, tax breaks for businesses -- you know the drill.

Congressional Democrats -- out of election-year fears, I suppose -- appear willing to fall for this. An AFP news report said that they "signaled willingness to suspend their own budget rules and accept a tax break without first figuring out how to pay for it."

It hasn't been lost on some observers that a big problem with our economy is that it has become alarmingly leveraged. The U.S. has made trade agreements all over the world, and our trade deficit was up to $63.1 billion just for November.

The Bush administration handed out a package of rebates and tax bonanzas, mostly benefiting affluent people, during its first year. The Clinton administration had left the U.S. with a record federal budget surplus of $230 billion in its final fiscal year. For the past fiscal year, the most modest estimates of the federal deficit were around $158 billion, and that was much lower than the previous five years. I suppose one could conclude that the lack of spending on infrastructure and services is finally "paying off" in a modest way.

History matters, and perhaps it's time to solicit some people's memories. I well recall the debate over the 1993 Clinton economic plan, which raised taxes somewhat on wealthy Americans. The marginal federal income tax rates in the plan were nothing close to what they had been pre-Reagan, but they were brought much more into line with what it takes to actually finance a national government for a country this size.

The plan passed by one vote in the House, and without one Republican vote. Opponents predicted that it would wreck the economy. Over several years, we got the chance to see what a relatively modest move in the opposite direction of Reaganomics would bring about.

Of course, you remember very well what happened during the '90s. The U.S. economy collapsed. Unemployment hit 25% after they raised the minimum wage. The deficit ballooned because, true to the Laffer Curve, people found ways to avoid paying taxes after the marginal rates rose, and then revenues plummeted.

OK -- on a more serious note, it seems absurd to see how many times a bad idea has to be proved wrong, or how many times it takes for a better approach to be proved better.

The U.S. economy isn't teetering on a precipice because of anything that happened overnight. The current national debt of over $9 trillion, compared to something over $1 trillion when Reagan took office in '81, is the logical enormity of a full generation of conservative Republican economic mismanagement.

We're not going to get out of this predicament easily. There will have to be shared sacrifice. The rich and the big corporations are going to have to ante up, like they did back in the late '40s and '50s, when the groundwork of this economy of relative affluence was laid.

The decisions will be hard ones. No one seems willing to propose them now. One thing that is clear -- Bush and his minions are going to keep doing the same thing, over and over again, expecting different results.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Never Mind Impeaching Cheney: Solons And Dracos Are Into Juicing Jocks

By Manifesto Joe

We have a vice president who is arguably guilty of impeachable offenses. It now looks like the Jan. 6 Strait of Hormuz "incident" may have been a timed "Wag the Dog" sham by the Pentagon. Many of the nation's financial pillars are crumbling. We have the worst president of the U.S. since James Buchanan. Many families are on the verge of homelessness for one reason or another.

Yet, amid all this, on Congress' first day back in 2008, Henry Waxman and Company opened a hearing, by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that Waxman chairs, on the Mitchell report on performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. Nice to see we've got our priorities in order.

Not that I think this episode of men behaving badly doesn't need to be investigated. I just wonder if it needs such immediate attention, what with these national crises and all.

Here's what The New York Times online had today:

WASHINGTON — The House Oversight committee has asked the Department of Justice to investigate the possibility that Miguel Tejada, the 31-year-old star shortstop for the Houston Astros, made material false statements in interviews with Congressional investigators, the chairman of the committee said Tuesday at the opening of a hearing on performance enhancing drugs in baseball.

Tejada was interviewed by Congressional investigators in 2005 when they were investigating the possibility that Rafael Palmeiro had committed perjury when he denied in testimony that he had used steroids.

Tejada was a teammate of Palmeiro’s on the Baltimore Orioles and told investigators that he had never used steroids or talked to others about using steroids.

But a recent report on performance-enhancing drugs by former Senator George J. Mitchell includes evidence that Tejada did discuss steroids with others. It says that Adam Piatt, a former teammate of Tejada’s on the Oakland Athletics, recalled providing Tejada with two steroids and human growth hormone in 2003.

Tejada said the injections he was observed giving himself in the bathroom were vitamin B-12 shots. He's also supposed to have given such shots to three of his teammates during the 2005 season. One of them was Palmeiro, who was suspended on Aug. 1, 2005 after testing positive for steroids.

So that B-12 is the secret? No doubt the Babe would have hit 1,000 homers if he'd been geezing that stuff instead of guzzling beer and wolfing hot dogs.

But I still can't help but wonder why, at this critical time in our republic's history, Henry Waxman's considerable talents are focused on this. Message to Henry: Baseball's a game, dude. The stakes are very, very low compared to what they are in some other corners of action.

Here's a parting note from The Times:

In addition on Tuesday, Representative John F. Tierney of Massachusetts, a member of the committee, said that baseball had granted more than 100 “therapeutic use exemptions” to players who said they have attention deficit disorder, so they could use drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall — both stimulants — in 2007, compared with only 28 such exemptions in 2006. The rate of baseball players claiming to have attention deficit disorder and subsequently using stimulants, he said, was eight times that of the general population.

Perhaps, one might hope, this rampant attention deficit disorder can explain those very short memories that the panels and investigators keep running up against.

As a kid, I had that common fantasy of becoming a baseball star. I fondly remember schoolyard home runs, Little League clutch hits, and nailing an opposite-field single off a local pitcher who had a great curveball and was being scouted. Unfortunately, hitting was the only skill I was particularly good at, and I didn't have attention deficit disorder. Maybe some B-12 shots would have made me a better outfielder.

But there comes a time to put away childish things. For the vast majority of Americans, baseball is, again, just a game. Mr. Waxman, we need you and others like you in Washington. But at this crucial time, you and and your colleagues should probably be concentrating on other things. Play ball! It ain't over till it's over.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Weekend Bop

I'm going to try to put more music on here. This is a great one from the late John Coltrane (1926-1967, died before his time of liver cancer). Here he plays soprano sax.

The other personnel: McCoy Tyner, piano; Elvin Jones, drums; Jimmy Garrison, bass. On a program hosted by the late, venerable music columnist Ralph Gleason.

Crazy -- MJ.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I Still Get Mail

By Manifesto Joe

An anonymous poster responded to my last post, which is, I suppose, a good thing. It's better than being ignored. But the person seemed to miss the point, which is not unusual. Here's the exchange, so far:

From anonymous:

Before the details were released, by both sides, I read a lot about the conspiracy by the USG to fabricate another Gulf of Tonkin scenario. All this as a nefarious plot to A) bolster a case for war against Iran, B) help get a Republican elected in 2008, and C) to increase investment in Naval warships.

Now that we can see the video and hear the audio and look at what each side is saying, does anyone want to retract their initial offerings? Iran (ISNA and Fars) admitted the contact took place. No one disputes the US ships were in International waters. Iranian accounts classify this as a normal occurrence (watch the video, does this look normal). It looks provocative from the Iranian side to me.

Further, has anyone heard of Iran's plan for asymmetrical tactics to counter US military capability? It calls for the use of such speed boats in suicide attacks. Some see Gulf of Tonkin, I see USS Cole. The IRGC Navy has had these speed boats and has been developing such tactics for some time, its not new.

If you can look at this objectively and decide that your first impressions may have been hasty, take the time to issue a correction or at least update your view to reflect the new information. Anything less is disingenuous.

My response:

To the previous poster: I just viewed the video and heard the audio. Well, at least they have got "something." Looked like a couple of Iranian speedboaters who were either bored, or smoking something against regulations.

But, go back and read my piece. There is nothing to correct or retract. How does one correct or retract caution? I made no definite pronouncement.

The point that you and many others miss is that our government has lied to us enough times about things like this -- often, and very recently -- that there is always enormous room for doubt. And that in itself is a goddamned shame.

I sincerely wish we had a government that we could implicitly trust. In school, I was told that this was the case. Experience has taught me otherwise.

In any case, what I just saw doesn't look like something to start a protracted war over. Show me more. A lot more.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Strait Of Hormuz Incident: This Time, Let's Be Sure We Know What Really Happened

By Manifesto Joe

I am part of a generation that woke up one day, around 19 years old, and heard that the Vietnam War was actually over. It hit me that I could barely remember a time when there hadn't been a Vietnam War -- it had seemed so permanent. This is one of the reasons that the breaking news about the reported incident in the Strait of Hormuz evokes specters of the '60s and early '70s.

The early reports are like this one from The Associated Press. And, they sound ominously like the first accounts of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident:

In what is being called a serious provocation, Iranian Revolutionary Guard harassed and provoked three U.S. Navy ships in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, officials said Monday.

U.S. forces were on the verge of firing on the Iranian boats in the early Sunday incident, when the boats ended the incident and turned and moved away, said a Pentagon official.

"It is the most serious provocation of this sort that we've seen yet," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

Pardon me for being so mistrustful, but I've got a problem with this coming from an anonymous Pentagon source, broken to the MSM after they mulled over it for more than 24 hours. I was born, but not yesterday. I grew up watching the CBS evening body-bag news, long after what is now generally acknowledged as a manufactured incident.

It's far too early to know exactly what happened. In the case of the Gulf of Tonkin, it took many years to ferret out the facts. But it's been obvious for a while that this "administration" is far from averse to expanding Mideast warfare to include Iran. So, there's more than a little reason for doubt.

AP reported that the anonymous official said that:

"... he didn't have the precise transcript of communications that passed between the two forces, but the Iranians radioed something to the effect that "we're coming at you and you'll explode in a couple minutes."

Wait a minute. Transcript? Were the U.S. ships recording this? Let's hear it. By definition, a transcript has been, you know, transcribed, as in a human reproduction. You know what those humans can be like sometimes.

The AP report also mentioned something about tensions between Washington and Tehran heightening over U.S. allegations that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. There was absolutely no mention in the same report of how those allegations have been generally discredited by the National Intelligence Estimate. It's the MSM stenographers with amnesia, at work yet again.

This whole thing seems to smell. Let's ask a lot of questions and wait for hard facts to become available. I've already awakened once in my life, just shy of 19, to hear that a war that seemed to go on forever was finally over. If we actually got into one of those things with Iran, that day of awakening might finally come when I'm living at Peaceful Meadows Campus of Care.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Despite 4% In Iowa, Giuliani Will Continue Dance Of The Living Dead

By Manifesto Joe

I stayed tuned to CNN so that I could see how Rudy Giuliani reacted to getting only 4% of the GOP caucus voters in Iowa, trailing Ron Paul's cult following of 10%. Rudy was "interviewed" by CNN Cadaver-At-Large Larry King. I don't think I've ever seen even the late Larry soft-pedal anything so much.

Little was said about the horrendous showing, and Giuliani talked about having moved on to New Hampshire and Florida and the like, in search of more fertile ground. In national polls, one could argue, Rudy still seems a bit viable, at 13% in the latest Rasmussen Reports numbers.

But the momentum is clearly against him now. He seems resolved to linger among the undead, when others will not. But I think he needs to realize that he's history.

As the old song goes, I've been wrong before. But Rudy's showing Thursday was far worse than anyone anticipated. When a kooky fringe candidate like Ron Paul can leave Rudy in the dust that way in a state known for folks who like sensible shoes, it's meaningful.

It did not escape my notice that Rudy got an endorsement not long ago from the "leader" of my home state, Rick "Governor Goodhair" Perry. I am at a loss to explain that development, unless Governor Goodhair has got it in his vapid head that hehisownself might be vice presidential timber. I'd say he hitched his wagon to a losing horse.

Rudy would have had a chance for the nomination in the Republican Party of yore, but I can't see that possibility in the current one. Much was made of the factor of evangelical Christians in Mike Huckabee's Iowa win. I'm not sure if people from inside the Beltway understand that Iowa really isn't unique that way. They should read the Texas Republican Party platforms from the past two presidential election cycles -- these are people who would frown upon the liberalism of Pentecostals.

I'm going out on a limb predicting this, but I feel some confidence. Giuliani is finished. And, when he actually admits it, it will be good riddance to a highly opportunistic politician.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton: Our Investigation Was Obstructed

By Manifesto Joe

After the epic misbehavior of congressional Republicans last year, I would strongly suggest to congressional Democrats, if they would listen to the likes of me, that's it's time for them to consider a show trial.

Today's New York Times ran an op-ed piece by Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the 9/11 Commission. They state flatly in "Stonewalled by the CIA" that officials obstructed the panel's investigation when they did not reveal those now-destroyed videotapes made of interrogations of al Qaeda operatives.

Here are the first three paragraphs of the article:

More than five years ago, Congress and President Bush created the 9/11 commission. The goal was to provide the American people with the fullest possible account of the "facts and circumstances relating to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001" - and to offer recommendations to prevent future attacks. Soon after its creation, the president's chief of staff directed all executive branch agencies to cooperate with the commission.

The commission's mandate was sweeping and it explicitly included the intelligence agencies. But the recent revelations that the C.I.A. destroyed videotaped interrogations of Qaeda operatives leads us to conclude that the agency failed to respond to our lawful requests for information about the 9/11 plot. Those who knew about those videotapes - and did not tell us about them - obstructed our investigation.

There could have been absolutely no doubt in the mind of anyone at the C.I.A. - or the White House - of the commission's interest in any and all information related to Qaeda detainees involved in the 9/11 plot. Yet no one in the administration ever told the commission of the existence of videotapes of detainee interrogations.

This could go pretty high, if we have a Congress with the will to pursue it. The events of last year have left me pessimistic on that score. The Democratic leadership would have to be ready to conduct high-profile hearings, Watergate-style, and ignore the inevitable accusations of election-year grandstanding. It's time to get the bulldozers out, so to speak, and run right over any obstruction by Republicans.

I'm not going to hold my breath. I wish someone would take Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid off to see the Wizard so he could give them some courage. Problem is, I think the Wizard may be somebody in the current administration ("Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!")

It isn't a matter of doing political damage to Republicans during an election year. (But hey, why turn down a lucky perk?) The principle is that this administration, already given a pass on so many outrages, mustn't be allowed this one. It's no slippery slope to see that if you permit someone to cheat today, they'll be emboldened and more likely to try it again tomorrow.

Hey Dems: It's time for full-blown, played to the cameras, congressional hearings on this blatant cover-up. Lawyer up, everybody.

To read the complete op-ed piece by Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, go here.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.